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Toxic Waste Materials

Toxic chemical pollution threatens every American family and every community. In 1996 alone, State and federal governments allowed polluters to dump more than 175 million pounds of cancer-causing chemicals into our air and water.

Leaking Underground Storage Tanks (USTs) are a grave threat to America's groundwater. Gas stations, industries and other entities use USTs to hold toxic material such as gasoline and oil that contain dangerous substances, including benzene, toluene and heavy metals that can cause cancer and harm developing children. USTs can threaten communities as their walls corrode by silently leaking toxins into our drinking water supplies, homes and businesses.

There are 680,000 USTs and a backlog of 130,000 cleanups; 9,000 new leaks are discovered annually. In 2004, UST cleanups declined by 22 percent compared to 2003. Chemicals in USTs can quickly move through soil and pollute groundwater. One gallon of petroleum can contaminate one million gallons of water. One pin-prick sized hole in an UST can leak 400 gallons of fuel a year. More than 100 million people drink groundwater in states where delayed cleanups threaten groundwater quality.

"It is the administration’s job to protect our health, but they are failing," said Cope. "The federal government should significantly increase cleanup funds and redouble efforts to make polluters pay for cleanups."



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